Priti Patel denies backing death penalty but says 'criminals should feel terror'
3 August 2019, 08:56 | Updated: 3 August 2019, 17:09
Priti Patel has said she wants criminals to "literally feel terror" at the thought of committing any offences in the UK.
In her first interview as home secretary, Ms Patel told the Daily Mail she promised to restore public confidence in policing of violent crime, saying she wants to see a return to zero-tolerance to make offenders "fearful".
She also spoke about her views on the death penalty, saying she has never said she is "an active supporter".
It comes following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's commitment to start recruiting an extra 20,000 police officers in the next few weeks.
Ms Patel, who was appointed home secretary in Mr Johnson's cabinet reshuffle, said: "Offenders should be fearful of committing any criminal activities on our streets.
"Quite frankly, with more police officers out there and greater police presence, I want [criminals] to literally feel terror at the thought of committing offences."
Mr Johnson has vowed to "make Britain's streets safe" and increase the number of police officers in the UK, reversing cuts made under previous governments.
Figures released in April revealed that police recorded 732 homicides in England and Wales last year, the highest number in a decade.
Last month, a report showed knife crime offences hit a record high in 2018-19, up by 8% on the previous year in England and Wales.
Ms Patel said she wants police officers to feel able to use their powers to the full and that she backs them to "make their judgements" when tackling offenders.
"The Conservative Party is the party of law and order. Full stop. The defence of our nation, defence of our streets and law and order are at the heart of our values," she said.
Ms Patel was also asked to clarify whether she backed the death penalty.
In 2006, she said she was in favour of of the "ultimate punishment" for the most serious crimes, and also said she supported the death penalty during a Question Time debate in 2011.
Asked about the comments, she said: "I have never said I'm an active supporter of it and (what I said) is constantly taken out of context."
Ms Patel was elevated to home secretary from the backbenches last month, after being sacked as secretary of state for international development by Theresa May in 2017 for holding undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials.
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